Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Stars Are Aligning Just Right...

We hear about rejection all the time. We're told to expect them, love them, learn from them...whatever. But no one ever really prepares you for acceptance.

Sure I've had stories published before and at the time it was like, "okay, cool. I'm published." Then I got a short story published last year and it was kind of the same thing. "Great, but so what?"

Now this week I have had two stories accepted. In one week! And, although part of me is like, "yay! cool!" it's more like having gotten a gift from someone that you don't really like, but it's the thought that counts, and so after the pleasantries of "thank you" etc. you put it aside and kind of forget about it.

This disappoints me a little. I thought I would be more excited about it. Especially after the accumulation of rejections over the past several months.

At first, I admit, when they accepted the stories, I had this feeling like, "are they just trying to fill space?" and "maybe they'll change their mind and send me an email saying, oops, sorry, sent that to the wrong person." They don't really do that though. At least I don't think so.

So while the days and hours pass, I do feel a little more excitement over these new successes. And, the great writing God knows, it's only a matter of time before the rejections start pouring in again so I really should be savouring this moment.

So I will go savour it. By finishing another story. By drinking a glass of wine. By going about my business as if nothing unusual happened.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Now on Sunday, Novel Progress: Pushy Characters

I can sum up my novel progress the past couple of weeks in one word: NONEXISTENT.

Many will tell you, if you're not writing that's not progress and for the most part, they are right. But at the same time, when you are wrapped up heavily in the world of your characters, constantly visualizing what they will do next, or how this scene should go here, or there, or wherever, is that progress?

Probably not.

But I think it is.

Here's the problem:

My characters want to overrule one another. They are pushy and aggressive, want to steal the scenes they are in. Which brings me to the question, whose story is it? In my case, there is one protagonist, but a couple of antagonists. (it could be argued I have two protagonists and one major antagonist) but whatever.

The antagonist is trying to take over the story. This happened when I first started to write the story too. The initial protagonist was pushed out by an overbearing antagonist and now the protag has changed because of it. But now I feel my antagonist has a far better story to tell. Maybe I've had it all wrong from the beginning. Maybe I am just letting this antagonist work her grisly fingers into the story and strangle the life out of the other characters.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I don't want to rewrite again. I am determined to get through this draft and then look at the bigger picture.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Oops...I missed it!

Okay. Just realized I missed my Saturday novel progress update. Sorry to all my faithful followers. In fact, there is little to report on the novel progress. The only I managed to do this week...work on a new story. Attempting to write in the 2nd person POV. It's actually pretty cool but has absolutely nothing to do with the novel.

I'm behind on my book reviews too. As usual. I will say it's because of trying to play catch up in all the other everyday life stuff. And the child being slightly ill this weekend. I admit, not getting much reading done. But I will be back at it before you know it and there will be reviews. Loads and loads of reviews, and novel progress.

Sorry for the slackiness.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Blubbering

Sentiment. It's a funny thing. People say it and don't mean it, others say it and mean it too much. They say it in the heat of passion, in the beginning of a new relationship or for personal gain. But why do those kind words, those things that make the heart twinge, dwindle when you're deep into a relationship?

Sometimes we say it to our friends, and of course mean it, but often it's so sporadic that the friend may even forget the ways you feel about them. It's there though. Isn't it? That's why friends can go weeks or even years without speaking to one another and then when they get back together it's like no time passed.

When you're in love with someone, your soul mate for lack of a better word, the ways you feel about them are often taken for granted. And sometimes, those kind words are replaced with digs, meant to be teasing, but yet can be soul-crushing. Like the husband who says, "yes dear, you do look fat in that dress." Does he mean it? Or is he trying to be funny because you've asked so many times and he's always said the same thing, "you look beautiful."

I've seen it in family relationships, too. My dad and I have a weird relationship. We love each other, of course. We say it, too. But rather than say something nice about something we have done, it ends in silly banter that is often insulting. Sometimes to the point that one of us really does start to feel hurt. Usually me. But I get over it and it's back to the banter.

Men don't share those sentiments enough. They don't say things like, "you make me feel good about myself." "I am so comfortable with you, I can totally be myself." Women can say it. It's genetically built into us to make our friends feel better. To make our children feel special. To remind the man we love that we're there for them even if they don't reciprocate.

I have a friend who is a fabulous writer, who is the best critique partner anyone could ever have. We are open about our feelings about each other's stories. So comfortable, in fact, we can say things like, "That chapter is really fricking boring. What's the point of it?" Or, "I hate it. What the hell were you thinking writing something like that." It's certainly not a dig. It's no slam at each other as writers. It's just we know each other well enough to realize we have each other's best interests in mind. We both want the same things and will do whatever it takes to get there. Even if we have to be blunt.

But why can't we be as honest with everyone in our lives without worrying about hurting their feelings?

I guess it just one of those things we'll never really understand.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday, Novel Progess: Which Draft is it Anyway?

Saturday is as good as any other day to talk about novel progress or the lack thereof. Lucky for me, the progress hasn't been so bad. This week itself, only found me a couple of good novel writing days. But I have added lots of new words, new chapters, and structure.

What the hell is it with structure? It's so important but as hard as finding a great title.

I started this novel, working title, Shades of Blood, back in January of 2010. And the main reason was for the year long novel class I was enrolled in. I needed to have something to go into the class with. Over that year, I wrote nearly 3/4 of the novel. In my head, I wrote the whole thing. Just didn't have the actual words down on paper.

A lot of things happened that year to stall me, to make me rethink where I was going with it.

The first one, I lost my flashdrive and everything I had written. Not just the novel, every little snippet and piece of drivel, every short story up to that point. 8 years worth of work. Gave me a new perspective. And I found a better way to save stuff. But losing the novel progress was a bit of a blessing.

I gathered  back as much as I could from the pieces that had been reviewed in class and kept on going. Found my stride and wrote back to where I had been, with a new focus in mind.

As much as I loved the support of the class, it had it's drawbacks. In that, everytime the class didn't think something was working, or a character was emerging as much more interesting than the original protagonist, I started to believe I had to look at it more closely. This caused me to rewrite so many times, too many, trying it from different points of view to find what worked the best. And it confused me.

I don't blame the class. It's totally me, and my sometimes neurotic personality and deluded need to please everyone. I know I can't please everyone, but that doesn't help the neuroses.

So I let the novel sit, nearly all of last year. Looked at it periodically, added a bit here and there, but couldn't get into that ever so important groove. I stewed. I considered. I talked with unbiased writers and friends.

And then in November really started looking at it again. But December I really found focus. And started working on it. Hard.

The one thing that was holding me back...a story line that needed to be there, but I couldn't figure out how to do it so it didn't take over the story. It was all backstory and in a forward moving story, it stalled the progress.

I considered a series of letters, scattered throughout. I considered sections for each character. I considered way too damn much and wrote too damn little.

And finally, I found it. As overdone as it may be, it's the only way I comfortably can see to get that story line in there, in a way that doesn't distract from the rest of the story.

Excerpts of journal entries. Thank you, Dean Koontz.

And my main character has changed, thanks to the feedback of the class, but the story will work.

So I have written a good chunk of journal entries. Inserted some of them into the main manuscript and there we go. A novel in progress.

Just to reiterate. This novel is mostly done. The stuff I am working on has been in the story for over a year, but is being rewritten yet again. And will come out far better in the end. The only thing I really have to do, as time goes on, push through to the end.

It's so close I can taste it. And I am frustrated to be rewriting, but no matter what order it's done in, it would have to be rewritten anyway. So which draft am I really on?

I don't know. Feels about the fifth or more. But since I haven't actually completed to the end, even though I know the end, it's really only the first.

Until next Saturday...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Into the Wild...

She's a three foot and a little bit, animal. The devil's spawn if there ever was one. I want to take her out into the wild and set her free. Since, at three years old, she already thinks she knows everything and does whatever the hell she wants. No is not just a word...it's what she believes and all that she stands for. Defiance stronger than a three foot layer of ice on a lake.

The morning has gone a little something like this...she comes running into my room with a band aid saying she has an "ow". She doesn't have an "ow". It's her new favourite thing, everything is an "ow" and everything requires band aids. Granted, we made the mistake of buying her some cute little Tinker Bell band aids a while ago and she thought they were a toy. Everyday she wanted to wear one on each hand or each foot. But if there really was an "ow" she didn't want it. But now that the band aids...which weren't cheap by the way...are gone, she gets into the regular band aids.

Child locks don't work on the bathroom door anymore. She can get them off. Plus with the newest milestone of potty training, we can't very well keep her out of the bathroom all the time. Anyway, she has the band aid in hand when she comes into my room. And of course, instantly I knew I was not going to like what I found in the bathroom. I could smell it before I even got out of bed.

Every lotion she could get a hold of, what remained of my anti-frizz oil for my hair, and toothpaste, combined together in the sink and on the counter into one big greasy, minty, flowery, musky mess. And water. Water everywhere. The counter, the floor...inside the medicine cabinet...a slippery mess. And to make matters worse, she decided she was going to try and pee on the potty without any help and as of yesterday, doesn't want to use the potty seat on the toilet...so since she couldn't get up there herself, she peed all over the floor instead of coming to tell me she had to go.

She's been doing so good on that front for the past month. With only a few minor accidents. I don't fault her for peeing on the floor. It happens.

So of course, I'm barely out of bed, and ready to lose my mind. I put her in her room until I could calm down and clean up the mess. But then...

Then...she flat out refuses to put on panties. She gets mad, slams the door and resorts to her newest technique of letting us know she's pissed - starts throwing all her toys at the door. I ignore her, I'm getting kind of good at ignoring the tantrums, and clean  up the mess, not before wanting to pull out my hair and being on the verge of tears because the frustration keeps building. I don't want to talk to her, I don't want to see her.

I clean the mess and take a shower, knowing she's fine in her room. The shower doesn't help.

I try to talk to her afterwards. Gentle and at her level. But she is apparently not ready to talk because she hits me in the face and slams the door again all the while screaming, "MY ROOM. MY ROOM." I take that as..."get the f#&k out of my room". (Can't wait until she's 15) Or something very close. So I go to my room, lay on the bed and want to scream. Throw a tantrum. But I know it doesn't work for her, so why should it work for me.

Instead I wrack my brain trying to figure out what to do to make her listen. There has to be something. Not ALL 3 year olds are like this are they? I got nothing. There need to be consequences for her actions, but I don't have a clue what those consequences should be. What's appropriate for a 3 year old?

Only solution I have at this point...DRINK!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I've Been Thinking...

About a lot of things the last few days. Good things, of course. It's a new year and open to so many possibilities.

There's the fact that it's supposed to reach 13 degrees today. In Calgary! In January! Almost felt like I could go outside in a tank top. I didn't of course, cause it's not 13 yet...but still. It's bright outside, so sunny it makes the heart sing and makes me dream of summer.

And of course my mind is full of writing related thoughts. Like this morning, I am thinking about character development and the things that make a person who they are. And how some of those things and the reactions of the character to a certain situation can be so contradictory to the norm. Yet, if we build the character well enough, their contradictions can seem reasonable.

Early on in writing, we are taught the basics. You know, things like:

What the character looks like?
Hair colour?
Eye colour?
Distinguishing features?

Then we are told to dig deeper.

When is your character's birthday?
Did they finish high school?
What is there relationship with their parents?

And we need to know information about the parents too. Because depending on the generation, parents leave different impressions, scars, on their children. So we ask all the same questions about the parents and piece together the influence they may have had on your progtagonist. Like, what if the parents were raging alcoholics? That would certainly have a different impact on the child compared to a child raised by devout Catholics. (or Mormons or Hare Krishnas or Wiccans) What if your character lost their parents? Or one parent? What if there is a long line of mental health problems? The list could go on.

But what about the difficult things that influence our lives. The choices we've made, the horrible outcomes, the things we lock deep in the shadows and very few know about it? I think we all have them. Those cliched "demons in the closet".

Our deepest, darkest secret that we only share with the people we trust. Think about that one thing (or maybe there's more, but pick one). How has that incident shaped who you are? Was it something that was bad in the eyes of the law or something that is just bad in your own eyes? Does that memory surface on a regular basis? Or have you healed from it and can safely move forward?

Now think about your protagonist. What is his/her, darkest secret? How has that incident shaped who they are at the time of the story? This is where depth comes from. Is your character stronger because of it? Or is she weak? Timid? Afraid?

Are you stronger because of your personal experiences? Or are you afraid and go to the bottle every time things get difficult?

Take that scary stuff and work with it. Your characters will thank you for it. And so will your readers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Book Review: Wild & Wicked by Jenn Nixon

A pinch of romance.

A dash of suspense.

A spoonful of mystery.

A heap of erotica.

Mix together and what do you have? The novella, Wild & Wicked by New Jersey writer, Jenn Nixon.

Veronica Chance’s sister is missing. Her high profile family doesn’t give a damn so she has taken it upon herself to find the missing sibling.

 Veronica infiltrates the strip club, Foxxes, where she knows her sister was last working. Under a false name she becomes a waitress at the club and quickly meets Mason Storm, a retired cop, who has an affinity for the girls, but does little more than flirt.

 Mason quickly learns the truth about why Veronica is there and offers to help. From there we are led on a thrill ride of mystery, into an afterhours sex club at Foxxes, as they search together to find the missing sister. In the middle of it, a romance buds between the pair. Or rather a lustful need to satisfy the sexual tension between them.

 The focus of the story is to uncover what happened to the sister. And this story line is done very well. The tension of the blooming relationship between the pair is also well done. But the actual physical interactions between the pair? Not that I would say they were gratuitous because they seemed to be in all the right places and necessary, but…but…they were overdone.

 Please find me a real woman who can have multiple orgasms or a man who can last long enough to give a woman multiple orgasms, because I would love to meet them. And when I say multiple, I don’t mean a couple, I mean like FIVE. Five or more orgasms. IN A ROW!

Can this happen? Between a girl in her early 30’s and a man pushing 40? I think this falls somewhere into the land of the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy…and Santa Claus.

Wild & Wicked is a really well written story with all the right ingredients. Great plot. Interesting characters. Lots of action. Lots of well written, arousing sex – even if bordering on the edge of fantastical.

If this is your kind of story, I think it’s worth the read. And it’s a novella, so you can almost read it in one sitting.

For more information check out  www.jennnixon.com

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why The Hell Else Do You Wear a Toque?

Sitting in my writing spot. Laptop open in front of me. Husband is in the kitchen. He turns to me and says," What are your doing?"

I turn around slightly, "Writing." Cause why else would I be typing furiously and basically ignoring everyone and everything?

"Why are you wearing that toque?"

"To keep the creativity in."


(plus it looks cool and I'm cold)

Goals for 2012


I don't believe in New Year resolutions. I believe in making small, attainable goals at any time during the year. But I suppose it can't hurt to have a few goals. I am only going to post one. One big goal for me and me alone.

So here it is:

My goal for 2012, to finish my novel by the end of the year.

It's also said it helps to reach your goals if you have to be accountable to others. So...I am also going to blog about my progress. My frustrations. My accomplishments. And of course all the other random shit that goes on in my head and around me most of the time.

There are millions of bloggers out there blogging about their novel progress. And I wish I could say I would be different and original. But chances are pretty damn good that I won't. It will be the same old stuff you see all the time. The only difference?

It will be me writing it.

Now that I think about it...that's two goals for 2012.

So in my effort to not have New Year resolutions, there they are.

My goals.

For the coming year.